Sean Paul at the Forum
Over the course of nearly 20 years, Sean Paul has been behind some of the catchiest songs with his unmistakable sound of reggae fusion and dancehall. As a featured artist permanently up for hire, he has recorded with the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna and Enrique Iglesias, and he’s also dropping his seventh studio album this year. He greeted the crowd at the sold-out O2 Forum by thanking them for their support, after opening with the 2003 hit Get Busy to deafening cheers. This was definitely a night for the fans – with a setlist filled with radio classics leading to an all-night audience dance party, it played out like a “Greatest Hits” club night with Sean Paul.
Wearing his trademark sunglasses and gold chain, Jamaican-born Paul danced around the stage flanked by two dancers (cue a lot of twerking), a DJ and an MC. He kicked off with popular, safe choices of collaborations such as Got 2 Luv U and Baby Boy, rapping over shortened tracks so a large chunk of his discography could be performed. After asking if it was OK to showcase his own material, he cleverly freestyled over the backing track of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. Paul sure knows how to be popular.
Of course, with a new album in the works, there were some new songs like Suh Mi High to debut. Luckily he wasn’t here to plug his latest record, because there was noticeably less energy around the room. Perhaps it was a chance to catch a breather from all the dancing to catchy hooks. Regardless, new music was sparse and sandwiched by familiar hits, and Paul himself never lost his energy.
Some of the rapper’s efforts, like 2014’s album Full Frequency, have been underwhelming, but the more recent No Lie, and Clean Bandit’s chartbreaker Rockabye suggest he’s reclaimed his relevance. His track with Sia, Cheap Thrills, was also welcomed by rapturous applause. And one can never forget the noughties classics like We Be Burning and Temperature, which led to the “right temperature” in the Forum to be a tropical heat, thanks to the venue’s poor ventilation…plus all the dancing.
Although there were no guest vocalists like he’s sometimes been known to surprise us with, and the only staging effort was a Jamaican flag draped over the DJ booth; it seemed no extra frills were required to wow his audience. Sean Paul admitted his voice wasn’t feeling “100%”, but he was ever the crowdpleaser and teaser. “My stage manager said I’ve gotta go to the next city”, Paul told the crowd. “Oh no…She doesn’t mind.” And they went wild.
Photo: Sean Paul Facebook
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Watch the video for No Lie here: